Pedro Zaragoza Orts was born in Benidorm, May 15, 1922 he was mayor of the town of Benidorm between 1950 and 1967 and became the driving force behind the tourism boom which led to Benidorm´s economic boom.
His father was a merchant seaman and he was raised by his grandmother after his mother died suddenly. After completing primary school in the province, he moved to Barcelona to continue his studies in marine biology which he later gave up and began working down a mine, after some years working in the mine he became disillusioned with it and after his father died he decided to return to his home town of Benidorm.
When Zaragoza became mayor of Benidorm in 1950 he realised how important it was to attract northern European visitors to his beloved town and his keen eye for the delights of the bikini helped to attract generations of Brits to the beaches of Benidorm!
With his new idea to legalize bikini bathing on the public beaches he came under objection from the religious bodies who tried to excommunicate him. Undeterred by the local clergy he got on a Vespa moped and drove to Madrid to persuade General Franco himself and it worked as Franco saw the potential for tourism to bring in much needed foreign currency so with this in mind he turned a blind eye to the clergy’s objections.
This opened the floodgates for hoards of bikini clad Brits (Just the ladies of course!) to grace Benidorm with their presence and they having stopped coming in their thousands to this day.
Zaragoza also changed Benidorm´s skyline which is now the high-rise capital of Europe boasting more than 330 skyscrapers, this really is a far cry from the sleepy village it once was with a population of just 1700 people!! Benidorm really did set the bar for many other Spanish resorts such as Salou, Lloret de Mar, Torremolinos to name a few. In 2003 Spain actually overtook France as the favourite destination for Brits with some 15 million spending their holidays their every year.
Can you believe that something so simple as the bylaw that Zaragoza introduced in 1956 to allow sunbathers to wear bikinis & forbid others to insult them would be so integral in creating the towns boom! Zaragoza said ¨People should feel free to wear what they want within reason if it added to their enjoyment of the resort and thus they would be more likely to return´ Benidorm has kept this ethos and it is now one of the most revisited resorts in Europe!!
It wasn’t all plain sailing though as this so called liberalism raised objections not only in the church but with 2 of Franco´s ministers who feared the everyday Spanish person would be morally corrupted by the fair skinned, semi naked foreigners! Zaragoza was undeterred however and with powerful allies in the Franco regime he came out victorious even causing a small social revolution in a country down trodden by the clergy.
You can say that Zaragoza did more than most to boost Spain’s economy that had been ruined by civil war this is something even the regime couldn’t do. Benidorm has now blossomed into a mecca for sun worshipers and party goers. The resort has something to offer absolutely everyone from every walk of life. In the 80´s Benidorm got a name as a lager loutish type of resort but nowadays this couldn’t be further from the truth, granted there are 24 hour bars in Benidorm and areas geared to the drinkers but it also boasts some amazing restaurants, winding cobbled streets that lead to an impressive church and look-out point, and the entertainment is second to none.
Benidorm has a micro climate and boasts over 300 days a year of sunshine. A 10 minute drive down the coast will take you to the picturesque coastal village of Albir which is a very classy resort with stunning views of the Med. Albir was chosen as the area to build the SHA spa & retreat due to its air quality, sunshine and general health benefits of the area. 10 minutes on the number 10 bus from Benidorm and you can visit places like Albir & Altea which is just a bit further up the coast, bearing in mind that the SHA retreat is in the top 10 best retreats in the world!!
The only people that have anything negative to say about Benidorm are the people that have never been! It really is a jewel in the Med…….